A well-known chef of traditional Korean cuisine, Kim has played a pioneering role in lobalizing Korean food. As an educator and "food director," she has spiced up movies and dramas with colorful and unique dishes.Koreans tend to underrate their own food and need to show greater appreciation for traditional dishes, says Kim Su-jin, CEO of Food and Culture Academy (F&C).
F&C is the nation's first educational institution to produce Korean food stylists and directors. It also offers consultation on food in Korean movies, dramas and various TV programs.
Established in 2002, F&C has taken up a unique position when it comes to culinary consultation and education.
For her, showing a variety of food in movies is not just an addition to films and dramas.
"It's one of the great messages of hallyu," said Kim.
However, Koreans tend to think that their traditional food is not as special as Italian or French cuisine because they can eat it whenever they want.
"For example, young people don't complain if they have to pay 20,000 won for a dish of pasta, because pasta is regarded as exotic and even elegant food sold in fancy restaurants," Kim said.
"But they will get upset if they have to pay the same amount of money for a single dish of bibimbap (rice with mixed vegetables) even at a fancy restaurant," Kim said.
Kim always feels sorry that Korean food is underappreciated, although cooking Korean dishes requires a lot of work, ingredients and more time, even for a simple dish such as bibimbap.
"You can never imagine how traditional dishes have become famous among foreigners abroad. They even come to Korea to taste it and even learn how to cook," Kim said.
It is mainly thanks to Korean dramas and movies such as "Daejangeum," better known as "Jewel in the Palace," about court ladies cooking for a king during the Chosun Kingdom (1392-1910) period.
"Whenever I see foreigners who come to Korea and eat our traditional food with zeal such as japchae (Korean glass noodle) and samgyetang (traditional chicken soup), I feel that our food is much better appreciated by foreigners," Kim said.
The CEO noted that's why she always teaches her students that they should learn about Korean cuisine before learning foreign ones.
"It's their identity. I always tell them even if you are an excellent cook of Italian or French food, you are still Korean when you go to those countries, so establish your identity as a Korean first, then you'll become a great cook," Kim said.
Kim said that she believes traditional food is definitely a significant component that helps the Korean wave sustain momentum.
"People can speak the same language when they share delicious foods. Just as hallyu has been possible because people can understand each other even if they speak different languages, I believe cooking and food are a great impetus for it," Kim said.